While road trips might've been the travel method of choice in 2020 (for all-too-obvious reasons), thanks to the relaxing pandemic restrictions, more and more folks are now taking travel itineraries back to the skies—as evidenced by the steadily rising airfare rates of the past couple months. If TSA security lines and tiny bags of peanuts, pretzels, or Biscoff cookies are in your future, but you haven't thought twice about carry-on suitcases in well over a year, it might be time to dust yours off and see if it's up to snuff. Otherwise, you might be due for a refresh.
The best carry-on suitcases on the market today are ultra-durable without feeling heavy, sport thoughtful design features for max maneuverability, and include a variety of interior sections to make packing them for your trip no sweat at all. Once you invest in one of these top-notch carry-ons, it'll stick by your side for years, carrying all your essentials in style.
Below, we've rounded up the seven best carry-on suitcases available now, each of which passed our functional and aesthetic requirements with, well, flying colors.
The 7 best carry-on suitcases for all your upcoming travel needs
This sleek two-toned beauty from Paravel is easy on the eyes and the planet. The shell is made from recycled polycarbonate, the handle is recycled aluminum, the leather details are vegan, and the cloth lining is made from the material of 15 ocean-bound plastic bottles. Paravel also offsets the carbon emissions involved in creating and shipping the suitcase. In addition to eco benefits, this carry-on doesn’t fall short in the design department, either: It rotates 360 degrees on steel axles with double-spinner wheels and features interior pockets and a removable accessories pouch.
Australia-based brand July was founded in 2019 with a name that, according to co-founder and chief strategy office, Athan Didaskalou, evokes happiness and travel no matter where in the world you are. In the northern hemisphere, July symbolizes a time to relax, hit the beach, and take summer vacation, and in the southern hemisphere—including Australia—it’s winter, which is the season that folks often use to travel somewhere warmer.
You’ll practically fly through the airport with this ultralight carry-on in tow. It’s the lightest double-wheeled suitcase in the world at just 3.9 pounds, but still includes the features you’d expect in a heavier-duty suitcase, including smooth-glide double-wheels (so it won’t tip over) and a three-stop telescopic handle. It also sports the brand’s signature “eggshell” round shape, which eliminates corners for extra durability—no matter how many overhead bins it gets tossed in.
With some carry-ons, it can feel like an endless tug-of-war, you pulling in one direction and the suitcase seemingly spinning out in the other. Not so with this high-tech Travelpro select. It features eight self-aligning, magnetic spinner wheels, and a four-stop adjustable handle with an ergonomic grip, so you and the suitcase always move seamlessly in tandem.
On the outside, you’ll find USB ports for your electronics and a polycarbonate shell that bends upon impact, so it won’t crack (not to mention the protective aluminum corner covers). Inside, two zippered panels along with several accessory pockets (including one waterproof section) keep everything in place. And as a bonus, the suitcase expands two extra inches, so you can really load it up—that is, if you won’t need to meet airline carry-on restrictions for your trip.
Upon first glance, it may look small, but this Amazon Basics spinner is deceptively deep: One of our editors called it the “suitcase version of Mary Poppins’s bottomless purse.” For its dimensions, it fits more stuff than you’d expect, even without tapping its expandable function. Its shell consists of ABS, a thermoplastic that isn’t typically as durable as polycarbonate, but in this case, is very light and features a scratch-resistant finish. Four double-spinner wheels let it roll in any direction, and three zippered interior pockets keep small items from bouncing around.
To #shaycation in style like actor Shay Mitchell, cop one of her carry-on rollers, a recent launch for her Béis line in the gray color (you’ll also find them in black and beige). Stain-resistant polycarbonate with a chic ridged design makes up the exterior, while the interior features a full slate of separate sections for organized-packing bliss—a detachable mesh packet, a zippered pouch, and a frosted PVC zippered pocket, among others.
The Béis carry-on also expands an extra two inches and features a cushioned trolley handle, so it’s always a pleasant pull, no matter how much stuff you’ve packed into it. And on that note, perhaps its most unique feature is a built-in weight indicator on the side, which automatically turns red if the weight of the suitcase exceeds 50 pounds.
If you’re going places where your laptop needs to go, too, consider this Calpak carry-on, which sports a separate front section with a sleeve for a laptop or tablet (and a strap to secure it in place). That compartment also includes separate sections for miscellaneous items that you’d like to keep handy, like your passport or keys. A removable accessory pocket and interior divider with its own set of zippered pockets round out the main interior cabin, and the durable polycarbonate exterior comes in four versatile shades: black, pink sand, moss, and hazel.
This minimalist-chic number from Italic has a real rugged side: Its zippers are a special “AquaGuard” waterproof type, so you can feel at ease traipsing through rain (or splashing through puddles) on the way to or from your destination. Its Hinomoto wheels also maneuver easily in all directions, no matter the terrain, while an easy-glide telescoping handle keeps you in control at all times. It also comes with an ejectable TSA-compliant power bank so you never run the risk of a low phone battery, as well as two removable packing cubes for additional organization.
The only catch? To snag this deal, you do need to be a member of Italic, which costs $60 a year. (Italic is an online membership-based retail marketplace where you can access things like clothes, accessories, and home goods made by the same manufacturers as those used by designer labels but sold at cost—meaning up to 80 percent less than their branded counterparts.)
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